How travel marketers can leverage Facebook advertising
It comes as no surprise that the purchasing decisions of today’s consumer are heavily influenced by what they read on social media, particularly when it comes to booking their all-important holiday. According to PhoCusWright’s ‘Social Media in Travel 2012’, more than 75% of travellers use social networks to find some type of shopping-related deal, while 30% specifically seek out travel-related deals. Positive customer reviews and recommendations on social media are therefore paramount for businesses operating in the travel industry. To get good conversations flowing, businesses must endeavour to cultivate positive customer experiences that can be translated into efficient marketing opportunities.
The following five quick tips have been designed to help you turn your customers into your greatest marketing asset:
1. Be optimised for Facebook Open Graph Search
Facebook recently expanded its beta version of its Graph Search capability, which presents a massive opportunity for marketers in the travel space. If you have a local hotel, inn, restaurant, or tourism business, Graph Search can help you increase your exposure among new audiences.
To ensure your page is properly optimised for Graph Search, make sure your location is spelt out clearly on your Facebook Page, succinctly describe the travel service you provide and include your location. Continuing to grow your fan base and asking satisfied customers to leave reviews on your fan page (which will play into your ranking) will also help increase your reach.
2. Turn the customer into your marketing asset
Travel customers are increasingly looking to social media as a credible source of information when making travel purchases and according to eMarketer.com it’s Facebook that’s leading the way.
Most useful and trustworthy social media sites when planning last trip according to internet users worldwide, January 2013. (Source: Emarketer.)
Marketers can take advantage of this consumer research trend by posting content meant to engage their fan base, and promoting these engagements through paid ads. For example, a global hotel chain posts pictures of their most alluring and captivating hotel locations and then invite fans to share their experiences at each destination. Marketers in the travel vertical should take advantage of Page Post ads and Sponsored Stories ad units to influence travel customers who are passively and actively using the channel for research purposes.
3. Encourage photos, check-ins, and video sharing
52% of Facebook users said their travel plans were influenced by seeing friends’ pictures of trips according to PhoCusWright’s ‘Social Media in Travel 2012’. Evidently, photo sharing on Facebook presents a massive marketing opportunity for travel brands. Travel marketers should always integrate photo sharing in their offline events and encourage check-ins at physical locations at every opportunity. Check-in Sponsored Stories can also be an effective means of word-of-mouth marketing, which Facebook users interpret as a positive affinity towards your brand from their social network.
4. Encourage positive feedback throughout the web
Because most travellers seek the unbiased opinions of their networks before making a travel purchase decision, positive customer reviews have become a critical factor in the long-term success of hotel and airline companies. Over the past several years, TripAdvisor has emerged as the leader in travel reviews and research, boasting an average of 200 million unique visitors per year, a dedicated user base, and a wealth of user generated content for over 600,000 hotels in more than 11,000 destinations. Facebook’s integration with TripAdvisor allows travellers to see which destinations their network have endorsed and reviewed – bringing social context into their researching process. To that end it is very important for travel companies to encourage positive reviews on TripAdvisor and other review channels such as Yelp and Zagat.
5. Re-engage customers who have expressed interest in your brand
According to Forbes.com, 99% of travel customers visit more than one website when planning a trip which highlights the need to retarget potential customers who abandon their website visit.
When planning a trip, how many websites do you typically visit? (Source: WAYN.)
Travel marketers should leverage Facebook Exchange (FBX) to retarget customers on Facebook who have expressed interest in your brand or intent to make a purchase. Customer data should be segmented based on their purchase intent or the stage of the buying cycle the customer appears to be in. Marketers should utilise a platform that buys on FBX to deliver customers with a customised and compelling message and a reason to return to your website. Travel marketers can also leverage Custom Audiences targeting in Facebook to accomplish a similar goal. Custom Audiences targeting allows marketers to retarget Facebook users based on offline information about the user captured and stored in the advertiser’s internal database. FBX and Custom Audiences both offer Travel Marketers a cost efficient and effective means of influencing purchasing decisions and driving potential customers back to their website for conversion.